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This is the World’s First Terapixel Macro Photo


Say hello to the world’s first terapixel macro photo. The photo is of a food mosaic, and it was made by stitching together 629,370 separate photos. The final image has dimensions of 6,571,152×160,256 pixels, weighing in at a staggering 1053.07 gigapixels (or 1.053 terapixels).

You can explore the photo for yourself through this interactive viewer:

This may give you a better idea of just how high-resolution this photo is: if it were to be printed at 300dpi, the print would be taller than the One World Trade Center in New York City.

The photo’s creation was led by photographer Gene Cooper of GIGAMacro at the SIGGraph conference in Vancouver. Over 100 attendees spent 5 days putting together the food mosaic using local foods (there are also over 60 non-food items tossed in as Easter Eggs for viewers to find).

“We […] wanted to use materials that everyone is familiar with in terms of scale and size,” Cooper writes. “Food, like many other objects, when viewed at high magnification takes on an abstract form and it’s often impossible to work out what it is you are seeing.”

Once the mosaic was created, it was photographed using three GIGAmacro Magnify2 robotic imaging systems that captured 3,000 photos per hour with illumination from Canon MT-24EX flashes, running continuously for nearly 4 full days. This resulted in 629,370 individual 22-megapixel photos captured with Canon 5D Mark III DSLRs and Canon MPE 65mm macro lenses.

Since each photo had only 1mm in focus, 6 photos of each portion of the mosaic were captured and stacked to allow for a sharp area of 5mm — the extra 1mm is lost in photo overlap.

Sorting the photos took 21 hours, stacking the photos took 1,260 hours, stitching the photos took 126 hours, optimizing the stitches took 63 hours, rendering took 126 hours, splitting the final image took 181 hours, editing the image in Photoshop took 82 hours, recombining the image took 253 hours, and tiling the image for viewing took 75 hours.

In all, post-processing took 2,187 hours, or over 91 full 24-hour days of computation and work.

“It was a great project and although the subject matter is a little off the wall, it was a great learning experience and test to see what can be done,” Cooper tells PetaPixel. “There are as you will notice some stitching misalignments and different artifacts in the image, but we thought it was a great project to learn more about the limits of imaging and see what the roadblocks are to doing imaging at that level.

“If we do another one, we now have all of the info and process figured out from the successes and failures of the first one to do it in a much more efficient and accurate way.”

You can read a more technical explanation of how this project was done on the GIGAmacro website.